Monthly Archives: December 2015

Tax Breaks, Falling Costs Are Boosting Wind And Solar

Wind turbines dot the landscape in Mojave, Calif. The recent extension of federal tax credits is expected to give the wind and solar energy industries a big boost. Irfan Khan/LA Times via Getty Images

Wind turbines dot the landscape in Mojave, Calif. The recent extension of federal tax credits is expected to give the wind and solar energy industries a big boost. Irfan Khan/LA Times via Getty Images

By Chris Arnold, National Public Radio (NPR)
Right before the holidays, Congress approved tax credits for clean energy. It was just a tiny part of a $1.8 trillion spending bill, but solar and wind power companies say it’s a Christmas present that will catapult their industry forward. Analysts are predicting a big boost in wind and solar projects over the next few years . . . Ron Binz, an energy consultant, says the Department of Energy finds that wind power alone could double in the U.S. in the next five years. And it could reach 20 percent of total U.S. power generation in 15 years. “Renewables have reached a point where there’s no going backwards,” he says. “They are becoming cheaper and cheaper and will eventually become the cheapest resource that we can use.”

Click here to read or to listen to the entire story (4.4 minutes).

Old landfill eyed as solar farm

Creighton University students, from left, Jon Lundin, Anton Yanchilin, Parker Revier and Sam Rosol are conducting energy audits, including running tests for solar panels, at local schools as part of their capstone project. Photo: Sarah Hoffman / The World-Herald

Creighton University students, from left, Jon Lundin, Anton Yanchilin, Parker Revier and Sam Rosol are conducting energy audits, including running tests for solar panels, at local schools as part of their capstone project. Photo: Sarah Hoffman / The World-Herald

By Eugene Curtin, Associate Editor, Bellevue Leader / Posted on Omaha.Com

Creighton University wants to assess the possibility of building a solar energy farm on the old Sarpy County Landfill along Cedar Island Road . . . Larry Hopp, director of Creighton’s Energy Technology Program, and Andrew Baruth, Creighton professor of physics, won the Sarpy County Board’s support Dec. 15 for an effort to study the costs and obstacles associated with building a solar farm on the site. The study would be performed by students enrolled in Creighton’s Energy Technology Program and would represent the culminating task of their course of study.

Read more here

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
For capstone class, Creighton students analyze energy efficiency of Omaha Archdiocese schools, by Alia Conley, World-Herald staff writer

Powerful Outreach: Creighton’s energy technology students get real-world experience while helping nonprofits with alternative energy solutions, by Eugene Curtin, Creighton Magazine

Siena-Francis Solar Photovoltaic Installation: A Collaboration of the Omaha Public Power District, Nebraskans for Solar and Creighton University’s Energy Technology Program, by Anton G. Yanchilin / Edited by Dr. Andrew G. Baruth

This week new state laws go into effect, including a minimum wage increase and a renewable energy tax

Associated Press / Posted on Omaha.Com 

Photo Illustrating Scottsbluff, Nebraska Community Solar Project

Photo Illustrating Scottsbluff, Nebraska Community Solar Project

Excerpt: Renewable Energy Tax

Facilities that produce solar, biomass and landfill gas energy will face one less obstacle that could hinder the industry’s growth in Nebraska. A new state law will require facilities to pay a nameplate capacity tax, similar to one already imposed on wind energy, instead of a personal property tax. The nameplate capacity tax is on an energy facility’s potential output. County governments and project developers both generally prefer it over the personal property tax because it provides a consistent revenue stream for counties and lowers upfront costs for a facility’s owners. Read more here.

With Extension of the Investment Tax Credit, SEIA Says “2015 Is Just The Beginning of America’s Solar Boom”

The following infographic is from a recent blog written by Rhone Resch, Solar Energy Industries Association’s CEO, with data sourced from SEIA and Greentech Media Research.  Click here to read his blog. 

ITC Extension

Gender Equality in Clean Energy: A Challenge Shared by All Countries

Huffington Post / Co-authored by Neha Matthew, Associate Campaign Representative with the Sierra Club’s International Campaign and Rebecca Pearl-Martinez, a Research Fellow and Head of the Renewable Equity Project (REP)

Solar Sister Entrepreneur Levina from Kandaga Village. Photo Credit: Solar Sister Tanzania

Solar Sister Entrepreneur Levina from Kandaga Village. Photo Credit: Solar Sister Tanzania

The gender inequalities that persist throughout the energy sector inspired the creation of the Renewable Equity Project (REP), a new initiative building knowledge and action on women’s advancement throughout the energy value chain — from engineering and technology to the boardrooms of energy corporations. Housed at the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP) at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, the initiative is the first effort to improve gender data across clean energy technologies and to demonstrate the impact that women’s advancement could have on expanding the clean energy economy.

Read the entire blog here.

Renewable Equity Project (REP)

Also of potential interest: 

Women in Solar Energy (WISE) 

Women in Solar Energy Vimeo (1.35 minutes)

SEIA’s archived webinar, Women in Solar Energy

Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E) is a global network for women advancing clean energy http://c3enet.org

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University is joining the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative (MITEI) to support implementation of the DOE-led U.S. Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E) program to advance women’s participation and leadership in clean energy. Women represent substantially less than half of the workforce across the energy field; closing the gender gap is a major goal of C3E. The new collaboration with the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy will broaden the geographic reach of the U.S. C3E program and help further raise awareness of C3E and women’s leadership in the energy sector. http://energy.gov/articles/stanford-precourt-institute-energy-joins-us-department-energy-and-mit-energy-initiative

DTE Energy in Michigan is building the largest utility-owned solar projects east of the Mississippi River

Crews work to install posts as part of a new solar field that DTE Energy is constructing.  Photo by Melanie Maxwell, Ann Arbor News

By Dominic Adams, Reporter for the Flint Journal, Published on Michigan Live.Com (MLive)

About 9,000 average-sized homes will be able to be powered by two sites putting out 45 megawatts of new “clean, zero-emission” solar energy, DTE Energy officials said. “It’s definitely one of a kind,” spokeswoman Jennifer Wilt said [yesterday], Dec. 21, of the plan . . . DTE would not release how much the projects cost because they’re still negotiating with contractors. The company estimated it would cost under $2 per watt.

Read more here.

After Paris, utilities look to deeper decarbonization

Central City Solar Development. Photo Credit: Cliff Mesner

Central City Solar Development. Photo Credit: Cliff Mesner

By Gavin Bade, Utility Dive

Before the Paris climate talks kicked off, Rachel Cleetus, lead economist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, had a message for utilities: Pay attention to the long-term decarbonization goals because they will shape your investments today.

The idea is that even if an investment, like a gas plant or a pipeline, looks good in today’s regulatory environment, utilities need to think about where policy and regulation will likely move in the future. Because power sector assets generally last for decades, the decisions that utilities make today will shape their abilities to decarbonize years down the line . . . “If you become part of the solution — if you move early toward a cleaner energy mix — that’s going to put you in a more profitable and more responsible business frame.”

Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Lincoln Journal Star: LES board adopts renewable rate schedule

Athens News: Energy settlement could mean big solar boom in Ohio
Based on an agreement between AEP Ohio and the Sierra Club announced Tuesday, the major electric utility could help Appalachian Ohio become a renewable-energy manufacturing hub for the entire state, producing enough solar energy to possibly more than quadruple the current capacity of solar installations in Ohio.

Report: Appraising Into the Sun: Six-State Solar Home Paired-Sale Analysis, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

NPR News: Wind Power Continues Steady Growth Across The U.S.
Michael Goggin, senior director of research at the American Wind Energy Association, says the wind industry is on-track to meet a plan laid out by the U.S. Department of Energy to generate a fifth of the country’s electricity by 2030.

reNews.biz: US wind tops 70GW
AWEA chief executive officer Tom Kiernan said: “This American wind power success story just gets better. There’s now enough wind power installed to meet the equivalent of total electricity demand in Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming.”

Nebraska Youth Summit on Climate

Ken HaarSenator Ken Haar has been at the forefront of climate change legislation in the Nebraska Legislature. Aware that there are some voices  missing – those for whom climate change will have the most impact – the Senator is organizing a Nebraska Youth Summit on Climate and is seeking 50 applicants between the ages of 15-25. Participants will learn about the legislative process, community organizing, and speaking to elected officials and the press about climate policy. The day will culminate with a press conference in the Capitol Rotunda. Application Deadline: Sunday, January 10th at 11:59 p.m. Apply here

Please note that application does not ensure admission to the Summit. Selected applicants will be notified by January 15, 2016.

Schedule of Events:

rev.-lennox-yearwoodSummit Keynote Address by Reverend Lennox Yearwood – Open to the Public
Wednesday, January 27th at 7:00 p.m. in UNL’s Nebraska Union, 14th & R
Senator Haar has invited one of the best youth organizers in the nation as a special guest: Reverend Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus, who will also assist with some of the training during the Youth Summit.

Nebraska Youth Summit on Climate Thursday, January 28th  from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln, 1445 K Street. The Summit will be limited to 50 youth ages 15 to 25, and an application is required.

If you are between the ages of 15 and 25 and are considering this event, please give some thought to the following: What would you like to say to Nebraska’s legislators about how climate change will affect your quality of life in the future?  How can you help pass good legislation to mitigate the worst effects of climate change in Nebraska? Get the tools you will need at the Nebraska Youth Summit on Climate.

For more information on the Nebraska Youth Summit on Climate and to print and post a color flyer at your school visit: https://www.facebook.com/events/1669844043272664/

SEIA Celebrates Extension of the ITC

On passage of the omnibus appropriations bill, which included a 5-year solar investment tax credit (ITC) extension. Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), made the following statement in a Press Release posted on SEIA’s website:

RhoneReschThis historic vote brings the solar industry to the forefront of the conversation about American energy. The ITC extension makes America and its solar industry the world’s preeminent producer of clean and affordable energy.

We commend members of Congress in both parties for taking this bold step and we look forward to delivering on the promise that this policy now offers all Americans.

Thanks to the ITC, solar energy will add 220,000 new jobs by 2020, and with this extension, the solar industry can achieve its pledge of employing 50,000 veterans. Clean solar energy will cut emissions by 100 million metric tons and replace dozens of dirty power plants. Importantly, in the follow up to the Paris accord, this establishes the United States as a model for the reduction of greenhouse gases.

A five-year extension of the ITC will lead to more than $133 billion in new, private sector investment in the U.S. economy by 2020. And much of this growth will come from small businesses, which make up more than 85 percent of America’s 8,000 solar companies.

Solar power in this nation will more than triple by 2020, hitting 100 gigawatts. That’s enough to power 20 million homes and represents 3.5 percent of U.S. electricity generation.

The solar industry now has a seat at the table with the nation’s other major electricity producers. Solar is the planet’s most abundant source of energy and offers all Americans clean electricity that can be built at scale and will make our nation proud and prosperous as a world leader in a new energy paradigm.

Solar Energy Industries Association’s Website: www.seia.org 

On the cusp of a boom, “soft costs” pose a challenge for solar

By Umair Irfan, E&E Reporter

UAirfanThe technology behind solar power continues to ramp up in performance and drop in price. As it does so, the soft costs — permitting, financing, installation — are making up a bigger portion of the price tag for new projects . . . As a result, the biggest advances in the solar sector over the next years may not come from more efficient photovoltaics, but rather from simpler permitting rules and better business models for renewable energy.

Read more here.

WHAT LOCAL NEBRASKA GOVERNMENTS CAN DO

Local Nebraska governments interested in reducing the soft costs of installing solar in your communities can now apply to the new Solar Powering America by Recognizing Communities (SPARC) program.Solar Powering America By Recognizing Communities

The U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative selected The Solar Foundation to lead a $10.3 million solar technical assistance effort for local governments, through the Department’s Solar Powering America by Recognizing Communities (SPARC) Program. The combined technical assistance and designation program efforts seek to reduce solar energy’s soft costs in 300 communities over the next 3 years.

“Local governments are uniquely positioned to take action to make solar more affordable in their jurisdictions and to unlock the economic development benefits associated with increased solar deployment. We look forward to assisting local governments in tackling soft cost barriers and growing their solar footprint in order to further benefit their constituents.”
– Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director of The Solar Foundation

Press Release: http://www.thesolarfoundation.org/press-release-sparc-tap-award/

Communities that take steps that signal they are “open for business” for solar may receive technical assistance and national recognition through this new U.S. Department of Energy-supported program and designation as a “solar ready community.” The program will recognize communities that are taking steps to reduce barriers to solar adoption and foster the growth of mature solar markets.

Read more here: http://www.gosparc.org/new-blog/?mc_cid=1322d6ff99&mc_eid=817c56e651

Apply for the SPARC “Early Adopters” Campaign here: www.gosparc.org/take-action-1

Contact Philip Haddix, Program Director at The Solar Foundation Email: phaddix@solarfound.org / Telephone: 202-469-3743  

Please share this information with government leaders in your community and encourage them to apply to the “Early Adopters” Campaign.